Dries Mertens: I rejected Chelsea after Antonio Conte “didn’t call”

Dries Mertens: I rejected Chelsea after Antonio Conte “didn’t call”

Dries Mertens has revealed he turned down offers from Barcelona and Chelsea to remain with Napoli beyond this summer.

The 30-year-old Belgian forward enjoyed his most prolific season for the Neapolitans and as a consequence attracted attention from clubs in Italy and elsewhere.

Two of those reported clubs was Barcelona Chelsea, though he admitted potentially joining the latter, being on the bench at the former wasn’t appetising to him.

“I never considered playing for another Italian side, even though Serie A is great,” he said whilst on international duty with Belgium.

“Chelsea wanted me, but manager Antonio Conte didn’t call me. I probably would have played there, but Napoli are on the same level.

“It’s true Barcelona sought me out, but what point is there in joining and then sitting on the bench behind [Lionel] Messi, [Luis] Suarez and Neymar?”

Lowdown on Mertens

Mertens, who has amassed 57 internationals caps with Belgian, sees his current deal with Napoli expire in June 2022.

Since joining them from PSV Eindhoven in July 2013, he’s made 186 appearances for the Italian giants scoring 68 goals and creating a further 46.

This season just gone by, which saw him being converted from a winger into a false nine, enabled him to achieve his best campaign in front of goal having registered 28 goals and 11 assists in 35 league matches.

In the process Mertens also made history last December when he became the first player since 1974 to register back-to-back Serie A hat-tricks.